Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 4, 2001
Walkerton inquiry attitude stirs criticism
Whether or not they believe the Harris government’s policies led to the tainted water catastrophe in Walkerton Ontarians are expressing outrage over the premier’s apparent lack of contrition on the witness stand last week.
The days following the slump-shouldered premier’s testimony at the public inquiry into the tragedy have produced vociferous attacks on his refusal to apologize in letters to the editor, radio and television commentaries, local pubs and barber shops.
One letter published in a Toronto newspaper offered the analogy to Mike Harris, a former golf pro: if a golf-course manager ruins his golf course by cutting staff and skimping on equipment, who is responsible?
Another stated simply, “it is appalling that we should have sunk to re-electing a moral midget.”
Given his refusal to repent, the avalanche of criticism focused not just on Harris’s political credibility but on his willingness — or lack thereof — to “do the right thing.”
Staging the inquiry in the tiny southwestern Ontario town where seven people died and thousands more fell ill last May only intensified the expectation that Harris would take a stab at making amends, said political scientist Henry Jacek.
“For him to go to the scene of the crime and not apologize to people there for his policies was probably worse (than if the inquiry were held elsewhere),” said the public policy expert at McMaster University.
“He really had to apologize, but he refused to take responsibility, let alone show any emotion. He just completely misread (the situation).” (Hamilton Spectator) (Old website.)